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About Paulist Press

Our History

The Paulist Press is a major component of the work of the Paulist Fathers, a society of missionary priests founded for and by Americans in 1858. Their leader, Fr. Isaac Hecker, sought  a way to share the gospel of Jesus and the rich traditions of American Catholicism with the people of his time. He began by preaching missions and speaking in public lecture halls. These methods met with some success but  reached only a limited number of  people.  Fr. Hecker wanted to make contact with those who would never set  foot in a church. So he turned to the printed word. The first  product of his vision was a monthly publication, the Catholic World  magazine. He wanted to create an intellectual journal for a growing Catholic population, and insisted that it be a first-class publication in format, quality, and style, equal if not superior to any secular magazine in the country. The Catholic World, later reconstituted as the New Catholic World, was to continue in existence for well over a century. Editors like Frs. Augustine Hewit, John J. Burke, James M. Gillis, and John B. Sheerin advanced the Paulist tradition of presenting a Catholic perspective on the important questions of the day. Although the circulation of the Catholic World  quickly reached 10,000, Hecker foresaw the need to reach a wider audience who could not afford the price of a magazine. In 1866 he founded The Catholic Publication Society to produce four-page pamphlets  that provided a succinct presentation of Catholic teaching . These could be sold across the nation for a penny apiece. Hecker also began a highly successful illustrated  monthly for children. Its first issue appeared in October of 1870 as The  Young Catholic, and within a year it was in the hands of 50,000 youthful readers.

Fr. Hecker died in 1888, but the Paulist Fathers continued to implement and expand his vision for sharing the gospel through the medium of the printed word. In 1881 the Paulists established The Columbus Press in New York City. In 1913 The Columbus Press became the Paulist Press. It published books which explained the teachings of the Catholic faith, like Paulist Father Bertrand Conway's best selling. The Question Box.  The Paulists also developed new magazines: The Missionary  and later Information.

Paulist Press began to expand rapidly in the 1950s. By 1966 it was the largest Catholic distributor and publisher in the world, employing 235 lay employees and the services of six Paulist priests, and distributing nearly 20 million books, pamphlets, and magazines each year. To channel books into Catholic parishes around the country, the Press established  the National Catholic Reading Distributors (NCRD) in 1958. In 1962 Paulist Press enlarged greatly when it acquired Newman Press, with two book stores in Baltimore and Washington, D.C.

In the 1960's Paulist Press made a creative and significant contribution to American education with the development of Catholic Library Services (CLS).  This new division of the Press provided schools throughout the United States with an immediately usable, comprehensive, and up-to-date library. CLS grew into the American Library and Educational Services Company (ALESCO). ALESCO's success led to its incorporation as an independent company, separate from the Paulist Press, in 1969.

The Second Vatican Council in the 1960s inspired a great interest in and excitement about  issues of theology and religious education. This meant a new opportunity for Paulist Press to fulfill its mission to interpret the church to the modern world and the modern world to the Church. In cooperation with various European publishers, the Press brought out a 50 volume series of hardbound books with the collective title Concilium: Theology in the Age of Renewal.  This series made available to readers of all faiths the theological basis for the developments in the church during and after the Council. Come to the Father,  published and distributed in 1967, was the first elementary school religious education program  to provide Catholic children in the United States with the newest advances in catechetics.

As Paulist Press grew it also moved, from its original location at the parish of St. Paul the Apostle in midtown Manhattan to Varick St. (near Greenwich Village) in 1958, to Glen Rock, New Jersey. in 1962, to Paramus in 1966, and Ramsey in 1976. Since 1985 the editorial, business, marketing and distribution offices of the Paulist Press have been located in Mahwah, NJ.   Today Paulist Press is a leading publisher of hardcover and paperback books, audio and video tafpes, educational programs and materials for parish renewal. Its Classics of Western Spirituality , now in its twentieth year, provides over 90 volumes of the original writings of universally acknowledged teachers within the Catholic, Protestant, Eastern Orthodox, Jewish, Islamic, and American Indian traditions. Its Stimulus books explore issues in the contemporary dialogue between Christians and Jews. The "What Are They Saying About (WATSA)?"  series provides concise overviews of contemporary religious, moral, theological, and scriptural questions. Through children's books, works on spirituality and prayer, and studies of the latest developments in theology and scripture, the Press continues its mission to bring the riches of the Catholic heritage to Catholics and persons of other religious traditions.

Reverend Mark-David Janus, CSP, Ph.D.
President and Publisher
Paulist Press

Our Mission

Striving to stand at the intersection of faith and culture, Paulist
Press is committed to publishing quality materials that:

  • bring the good news of the Gospel to Catholics and people of other religious traditions;
  • support dialogue and welcome good scholarship and religious wisdom from all sources across denominational boundaries;
  • foster religious values and wholeness in society, especially through materials promoting healing, reconciliation, and personal growth.

The mission of Paulist Press is directly connected to the mission of the Paulist Fathers.

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